He is harnessing new capabilities and technologies to create the shopping experience that the beauty industry’s customers demand. Find out about his tips and tricks.
Tell us about your role at L’Oréal.
As a vice president within information technology, I develop short- and long-term IT strategies, roadmaps and operational plans that ensure current and future business needs are understood and reflected within the company. Then our team collaborates with our business partners to develop technology solutions that will support the business strategy.
Your career path to has been an interesting one. Tell us about it.
I started my career in banking. After completing a management training program, I went into IT, and that’s where the majority of my career has been. However, it has never been just about technology for technology’s sake, but rather solving business problems using technology. I’ve worked in financial services managing commercial and retail banking systems. I moved into software development and then into consulting.
The CPG industry and beauty in particular seem a long way from financial services. What attracted you to them?
While consulting, I worked with a variety of industries, gaining a depth and breadth of experience in pharmaceuticals, transportation, finance and CPG. It was while I was consulting that I realized the number of similarities in how technology enables these diverse sectors. CPG presented an opportunity to leverage the experience I gained using technology to solve business challenges in the other sectors. I had the good fortune to be offered a great opportunity 10 years ago to join a fantastic CPG company, L’Oréal.
Tell us some challenges that you feel the beauty industry faces with technology.
The disruption to business and technology, caused by the shift to digital, mobile, big data and social, is creating major changes to the technology base of the beauty industry. Most companies have established ERP systems to support the major business areas. The challenge has shifted to managing change among the foundational technologies while implementing capabilities that enable evolving digital technologies across channels to capture data. I believe that all companies will want have their products available for purchase through every available channel. Wherever the consumer is shopping, we need to be there with relevant products, services and delivery channels that support every path to purchase.
How is mobile changing your business?
The heavy adoption and use of mobile and other digital devices continues to grow at exponential rates, so every business has to be positioned to leverage and support the digital evolution. There are over seven billion smartphones in use and 56 billion apps downloaded annually. With so many connected devices, you have to have a strategy and capabilities to be able to take an order or provide access to product information on your smartphone, tablet or computer. The growth of mobile devices will continue to present a challenge, but we have to harness the new capabilities and leverage the technology to help deliver the shopping experience our consumers desire.
If you were to give advice to someone looking to work in CPG technology, what would you say?
It is extremely important to understand the business of IT is not just about technology. You can’t excel at your job unless you really understand how the core business operates. My advice is to not only draw from the technology background that you’ve gained through education and your work life, but to learn the business behind whatever CPG industry you work in. Someone coming into the meeting room should not be able to tell who is the technologist and who is the business strategist at the table. The technologist should always be able to communicate in business terms—not just technology buzzwords. Focus on knowing the business, its core strategies, consumers and how your company goes to market.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud that I have developed a diverse background and gained a strong business understanding in all the sectors that I have worked in. I feel great knowing that I’ve been involved in how business gets done in different verticals. But I am most proud of working alongside some great people to deliver critical business solutions using technology.
Interviewee Name and Job Title: Hal Dally, Vice President, Division Systems Officer, L’Oréal USA